Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Review: Company XIV's Sumptuous New Cavalcade, QUEEN OF HEARTS

For over a dozen years, the brilliant director/choreographer Austin Mccormick and the intriguing troupe of artists he's gathered to create and expand Company XIV have been luring audiences to witness productions that evolve classic tales we've loved as children (The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Snow White) into visits to sensually-charged wonderlands.

Review: Company XIV's Sumptuous New Cavalcade, QUEEN OF HEARTS
LEXXE and Storm Marrero (Photo: Mark Shelby Perry)

So it's only proper that their sumptuous new cavalcade, QUEEN OF HEARTS, is inspired by Lewis Carroll's story of Alice's adventures down the rabbit hole.

Like all Company XIV productions, the experience begins upon entering the elegantly-designed interior of their exclusive nightclub/showplace, located on an otherwise drab industrial Bushwick block, and breathing in the scented air as scantily-dressed hosts escorts guests to their tables and offer to deliver the house's signature cocktails.

And like all Company XIV productions, McCormick has shaped the presentation around the talents of a wondrous ensemble of classical dancers, hoofers, operatic vocalists, pop singers, circus performers and burlesque stars, combining the 17th Century style of the court entertainments enjoyed by King Louis XIV of France with more contemporary sensibilities. The musical playlist ranges from Offenbach, Rossini and Tchaikovsky to Neil Sedaka, Nina Simone and Rihanna.

As usual, the playfully sexy, Baroque meets Babeland outfits and visuals are by set/costume designer Zane Pihlstrom, caressed by Jeanette Yew's atmospheric lighting.

Alice herself is played by magnetically fierce vocalist LEXXE as a woman venturing out to experience new pleasures and fantasies. The three acts have her encountering Carroll's classic characters, played by XIV regulars performing their specialties.

Review: Company XIV's Sumptuous New Cavalcade, QUEEN OF HEARTS
Nicholas and Ross Katen (Photo: Mark Shelby Perry)

The White Rabbit, for example, is played by powerhouse belter Michael Cunio, whose overtly sexual charisma and comical flair have made him a favorite among repeat visitors. Tweedledee and Tweedledum come in the form of vaudevillian identical twins Nicholas and Ross Katen performing a sexy mirror act. As "Eat Me," Ashley Dragon twirls within her Cyr wheel and Laszlo Major's "Drink Me" is a merman who seems to swim through the air as he pole dances. Contortionist Lilin Lace is carried onto the stage wrapped up as a caterpillar who is then transformed into an entrancing butterfly.

Habitual show-stopper Marcy Richardson, known for hitting operatic soprano trills while undulating mid-air, offers another stunning turn as The Mad Hatter, spinning above the audience in a chandelier while singing Michael Andrews' "Mad World."

When the Queen finally arrives, she's played by commanding blues vocalist Storm Marrero, who tears hearts out with her gripping rendition of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood."

There is no other company in New York that does what Company XIV does on such a high artistic level. Like their past productions, QUEEN OF HEARTS is an adventure for the senses in a captivating world of erotic imagination.

Related Articles

From This Author - Michael Dale

After 20-odd years singing, dancing and acting in dinner theatres, summer stocks and the ever-popular audience participation murder mysteries (try improvising with audiences after they?ve had two hours... (read more about this author)

Sunday Morning Michael Dale: Steph Del Rosso's Sharp Social Commentary, 53% Of, Takes On Added Significance After Supreme Court Rulings
July 3, 2022

The title refers to the 53% of white women who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, but that's just the starting point.

Sunday Morning Michael Dale: 1909 Typist Turned Playwright Elizabeth Baker Writes of Chasing Your Dreams in Chains
June 26, 2022

The Mint brings back another forgotten gem by Elizabeth Baker and Martha Clarke explores the Biblical playboy who tossed it all.

Sunday Morning Michael Dale: Madhuri Shekar's Fascinating Moralistic Drama Queen Explores The Flexibility of Truth
June 19, 2022

We're told that numbers don't lie, but when the numbers conflict with what we see in front of us, are they really telling the truth?

Sunday Morning Michael Dale: Best Friends Become Two Unlikely (or Maybe Perfectly Matched) Lovers (or Maybe Not) in Reality-Based Musical Straight Forward
June 12, 2022

Billy Aberle and Chris Sabol's Straight Forward is an original musical inspired by an article by Mike Iamele that went viral on social media in 2014, explaining how he began developing romantic and sexual feelings for his male best friend Garrett Lech, despite them both identifying as straight.

Sunday Morning Michael Dale: Mara Vélez Meléndez's Notes on Killing... A Subversive Burst of Creative Energy
June 5, 2022

Count Christine Carmela Herrero and Samora La Perdida as early favorites for Stage Pair of The Season, as they crackle with chemistry in Mara Vélez Meléndez's playfully packaged political outrage.